Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


December 18, 2012

Jacksonville: Lon Morris could have returned rodeo property, paid water bill

The annual 'PRCA Tops in Texas Rodeo' will take place in May as planned.



Jacksonville City Manager Mo Raissi also felt strongly that the city would be victorious in the matter.

"There is no question about the rodeo," Raissi said Tuesday. "There is a contract. Even if the property is sold, the contract stipulates the grounds can be used by the rodeo for the next 15 to 20 years."

LMC Chief Restructuring Officer Dawn Ragan and Houston attorney Hugh Ray III did not immediately return a request for comment made Tuesday.

The rodeo grounds were deeded to the college with specific considerations in April 2009. One requirement was that the college invest $250,000 in improvements to the grounds, including painting, roof patching, and regular maintenance.

As part of the arrangement, LMC was required to permit the arena's use by the rodeo association for the annual PRCA Tops in Texas Rodeo event.

A special warranty deed, signed by LMC and Jacksonville employees, stipulated that if the improvements were not made, the property would automatically revert back to the city.

"Our position is, the school didn't spend the $250,000, so it should automatically return to us," Angle said. "The way it's set up, we're confident the debtors only want to show it for sale and will wait to be approved by us. We are in control as far as that is concerned."

Even if a high bid was made on the property, the bid would have to be approved by the city, Angle said.

In regard to the $25,600 in unpaid water bills the city is trying to reclaim from LMC, Jacksonville Finance Director Freddy Thomas said a claim has been filed against the college estate in bankruptcy court, listing the city of Jacksonville an unsecured creditor, Thomas said.

The debt started when said the college started paying its water bill late in March and had an outstanding balance for April, May, and June.

The college began making partial payments to the city, but the full amount owed was never recovered. Then the college filed for bankruptcy in July.


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